* Posts by Chairman of the Bored

933 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Apr 2017


Boeing preps pilotless passenger flights – once it has solved the Sully problem, of course

Chairman of the Bored

All valid points

Actually AF447 is a good test case for what you are asserting. Its far from a 'pure' pilot error issue - yes, the pilot flying kept a nose up attitude forcing full stall all the way to the earth. But that was already very deep into the accident sequence. The true initiating event is a dumb design flaw in t the pitot tubes used on the accident aircraft. They iced up... badly... and the aircraft lost most speed information and the autopilot disconnected. Airbus' automation, arguably the best in the industry, CANNOT fly an aircraft without speed data. It seems fairly clear the human crew struggled with the change to alternate control rule and its obvious inappropriate elevator inputs were provided and that made the aoa data iffy. That led to a full autopilot disconnect because there is no way the automation could fly the aircraft with no speed inputs and questionable aoa. One thing that might have helped would have been of the aircraft had a Boeing-style yoke assembly. Both move together and if you are the pilot not flying having the column land in your lap from an inappropriate command from pilot flying might be a clue that he is screwing up. I say 'might' because its amazi.g what can be missed under stress. Airbus uses side sticks with no visual or tactile feedback so it is not obvious what inputs are being applied. You might argue that this design decision was yet another initiating event but (a) yokes have their own issues and (b) lets have an intelligent discussion rather than a Boeing/Airbus preference flame fest. Both make outstanding products.

Bottom line: pilot action ultimately doomed AF447 but the worlds best automation had already thrown in the towel. Its not clear to me how to fly a heavy - esp near the coffin corner of its envelope - without trustworthy airspeed.

Its tough to find pure pilot error drive fatalities - leaving aside homicidal nutjobs. About the purest dumb error crash I can think of is Eastern 401. Went down in the Everglades when everyone was troubleshooting a nothingburger problem and nobody was flying the plane. And that was a reaaaaly long time ago. The other Everglades lawn dart - ValueJet - was also human error but from the some idiot loading O2 generators. No automation in the world could have helped those people - they were just totally doomed before departure. Sometimes ¿[=[£ happens. Poor guys :(

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Its not just a man/machine interface you are replacing

Yes you have an excellent point concerning human error. What makes it complicated though is that one can argue - and the investigation reports do so - that problems like AF447 are not so simple as a human merely screwing up, but have elements to them of poor man machine interfaces. If a human does not understand what the machine is doing - or vice versa - you are set up for trouble. Many air crashes have occurred this way - perhaps one could argue that half-done automation is worse than full automation? Where does one draw the 'enough' line?

Its not just aviation, either. One could argue convincingly that the Three Mile Island nuclear plant would not have had a core melt if the humans had left the machine well enough alone. Sure, there would have been flooding an so forth due to the stuck PORV, but most likely it would have taken care of itself. On 1970's tech. But the man/machine interface was totally awful and the rest is history - multibillion dollar write off.



Chairman of the Bored

Its not just a man/machine interface you are replacing

One of the core functions of a pilot is interfacing with the cabin crew - who get right busy if things are going badly - and to a lesser extent with the passengers.

Id encourage people to read about how CAPT Richard Champion de Crespigny of Qantas kept his pax and crew informed and calm during an uncontained engine failure incident on an A380. As an engineer flight 32 is of great interest to me because damage from the initiating event greatly exceeded expectations. The aircraft remained aloft but the damage was significant. Hundreds of discrete failures of varying levels of veracity were reported ... most were bogus because of radical remodeling done to several wiring harnesses. The second officer painstakenly troubleshot these issues one by one to get a good estimate of the system state, and the Captain concentrated on flying, communicating, and executive level decisionmaking (we are in no immediate danger... do not make mad dash for a runway... learn how to maintain control of the ship...) Classic cockpit resource management... and also why you have 'redundant' personnel up in the pointy end.

The pilot and crew kept calm, informed the pax what was going on, and basically requalified their new aircraft config in a test flight sense, rehearsing the landing and all. Post flight the CAPT debriefed the pax, gave out his personal number to alcon in case people needed someone to talk to, etc. Airbus should be commended for putting together a great machine that kept flying despite abuse, but give Qantas its due for hiring and promoting a great man.

Given how poorly Ive seen extremely complex systems hand untested and/or totally unanticipated or 'impossible' inputs I really wonder what the outcome would have been? Immediate attempt to land given unknown data quality and aero performance? Who explains to the pax and cabin crew whats going on.... bearing in mind that panic doesnt have good outcomes?

So here is your real problem: CAPTs de Crespigny and Sully arent born overnight. What we see is the result of years of training and, yes, probably more than a few screwups. In the name of operational and fuel efficiency today's pilots are not always allowed to hand fly and develop experience... so how go you grow men and women with balls of steel? In a zero defects environment how do you develop the mental skills needed when all hell breaks loose? AND ... how do you keep the crew of a craft on autopilot for hours on end engaged enough to (a) see that its going to hit the fan before the autopilot gives up and chucks the aero machine back into your hands and (b) have enough of the system's state vector estimated that you can actually achieve anything when (a) happens?

THAT to me is the real challenge.

Golden handshakes of almost half a million at Wikimedia Foundation

Chairman of the Bored

Some "watchdogs" exist

Better than nothing. Not sure by how much:


Lately the missus and I keep the charity very close to home so we know precisely where the resources go and - more importantly - avoid further harm. There are kids near you that need a tutor, families that need short term assistance, etc.

Suggest people read.'Toxic Charity' by Lupton, ISBN 0062076205, 9780062076205.

And yes I was dumb enough to send my $10 to Wikipedia some years back. Dang.

State senator sacked by broadband biz Frontier after voting in favor of broadband competition

Chairman of the Bored

West Virginians...

...sorry they lost a good leader. State has some fundamenal problems, such as lack of decent agricultural land, lack of any non-coal mineral resources, terrain is a PITA to build transport networks through...

But the people have always had some serious balls. Very tough, no nonsense people.

During the civil war (or as its known in my parts, the war of northern aggression) the WVa attitude was basically 'Youre all batshit crazy. Leave us alone or we will shoot you.' And thats why we have two Virginias - and the one to the right got hammered pretty extensively.

Now if we could just figure out how to grow a self-sustaining non-mining economy, we'd be cookin' with gas. Oh, wait....

NSA leaker bust gets weirder: Senator claims hacking is wider than leak revealed

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Voter fraud?l

Thanks; interesting to know how it works in that side of the pond. Sounds entertaining to say the least! Im no longer living in the inner city so do not know conditions there firsthand. Second hand info suggests nothing has changed.

In the bedroom county I'm currently living in, campaigns can - with annoying levels of aggression - attempt to pass literature and sample ballots to you as you approach the polling station. They are forbidden to do so any closer than 200' from the entrance. Poll officials are pretty scrupulous about enforcing the safe zone, and our local Sherrif's deputies occasionally put on a show of force to make sure everyone keeps their act together. These boys really love showing off the uniforms and small arms...

Electronic devices other than blind/deaf assistive technology is forbidden for both voters and officials alike. Ive been a volunteer official for some years and have been reasonably impressed by the professionalism of other polling officials. Nobody has ever tried to influence or coerce me. I've never had reason to question anyone else's actions

On the negative side: we don't check IDs - its against local ordinances to do so. Physical control of machines is OK but not great. Physical control of the laptops and hardcopy voter rolls is bad to awful. IT controls? No comment.

Bottom line: if someone wanted to add some people it could very well be done. Not on my watch as my precinct is very small and we basically know everyone ... but mischief is possible elsewhere. Note that does not imply actual existence of fraud, just the potential

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Voter fraud?

You misunderstood, or I just didnt explain clearly... what I learned living in a hell hole of an rust belt city is how to do ballot stuffing. Providing fake IDs... plying guys with so much booze that by the end of the day they would attest to ANYTHING... in the district where I came of age the dead were never removed from the rolls; heck we probably had more 'registered voters' than population in the district once the population collapsed.

And we routinely hit 80-90pct or sometimes more participation - against a national norm in the mid to high 30pct range.

I believe in access to voting. I dont believe in organized crime and racketeering.

Chairman of the Bored

Voter fraud?

This generation of snowflakes has no appreciation for classic voter fraud techniques. Fancy schamncy registration databases?? Who needs em!

When I was a kid the deacons of the local AME church - a tool of the Democrat leadership machine - would take their white church vans around and pick up the homeless guys and whatever else was sitting around. Gave em booze, ballots, and paper name tags. Load 'em up, drive 'em around, and "vote em"! I think but dont know that the drivers were being paid by the head. Vote the whole freakin' day. Win win for everyone.

THAT is how you do proper fraud. Not this spearfishing BS. Kids these days... get off my lawn!

Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

Chairman of the Bored

Not trying to kill a lot of people...

...well intensity of combat is relative. If you are safe and secure in a DC or London HQ I guess all combat looks pretty low intensity. I can assure you, though, that when you are actively being shot at the notion of 'low intensity combat' is BS. Suppose that must have been the experience for in Belfast...

The open source community is nasty and that's just the docs

Chairman of the Bored

Not sure it has anything to do with IT

Perhaps the study merely reflects the inevitable behaviors of people in large groups. Face it, a poor sociopath ends up as a criminal. A really clever one ends up as a leader. I think we delude ourselves if we think the nature of the IT tasks somehow changes our basic psychology

The only thing that amazes me is that we dont have more workplace mass killings. When I worked for a certain org that has a five-sided HQ it never ceased to amaze me how much derision, abuse, and crap we would heap on people who we have already trained to kill without much hesitation. Guess their mental stability is far higher than society seems to give them credit for...

So if a guy wants to rant and rave, fine. I will grow a thick skin and find constructive ways for him to vent...

'Fat boy' flies: ISRO's heavy rocket fails to blow up

Chairman of the Bored

Good show

Good to see hard work paying off.

Cannot compete with SLS? Of course not; it actually flew and didnt make the contractors billions in the process of not flying.

Utah fights man's attempt to marry laptop

Chairman of the Bored

Running Vista felt like my marriage...

Let's see...

...constantly asking me stupid questions that just serve to slow me down and piss me off

...crashing continually, throwing messages that have no correlation with the 'real problem' whatsoever

...continual bloating

...no matter how big a hard drive I threw in it, just not enough

'My PC needs to lose weight' says user with FAT filesystem

Chairman of the Bored

Sometimes acronyms are the only effective way to communicate...

Got a crate sent to me from overseas, stenciled on the side: WTF? POS NFG!!!

Sent the following email to shipping manager:


Got back:


Security company finds unsecured bucket of US military images on AWS

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Tell me again, why putting sensitive information in the cloud is a good idea?


These days the NSA would probably just sub to Booz anyways. This company has some major clout; just ask Mr Snowden.... Oh, wait....

Google can't spare 113 seconds of revenue to compile data on its gender pay gap

Chairman of the Bored

Maternity leave...

My daughter pointed out that as a dude I lack the experience to say whether the antidiscrimination juju works or not. Then I pointed out to her that I took six weeks of leave to hang out with her and her mum when she came out of the oven. When I returned to work, my office had been chopped into four cubes and invaded by an equal number of people Id never seen before. My few personal effects had gotten chucked into a cardboard box. While I still had a job I was figuratively 'homeless'

My employer at the time is one of the world's largest employers, with a large pentagon-shaped HQ next to the Potomac River.

Chairman of the Bored

What the hell, I will wade into this morass. Big caveat- I'm an engineer, not an IT guy and what I say applies only to the infinitesimally small sliver if the USA's engineering field I've played in:

(1) At present my perception is that there are more female than male engineering students. Note: I'm talking about the small subset who are US citizens - the only flavor I can hire.

(2) The women tend to interview far better; a lot of the males have some sort of weird video-game-derived socio-alco-psycho-logical strangeness that makes me want to airgap my projects from them.

(3) from (2) our junior staff is actually about evenly matched or slightly biased towards the female side; starting salaries for the women are definitely higher.

(4) At the ten year mark we have few women left. First, we - meaning every org Ive worked in - treats women like crap. Less educational opportunities... Nastier interpersonal interactions... they get screwed in tetms of advancement for at least a year after taking materbity leave... etc.

Two types survive: super stars who would perform well no matter what you do to them, and on the other end of the bell curve sociopathic bitches who are able to rise with extraordinary speed because of worthless male managers who think only with their dicks. Not that the sociopaths ACTUALLY put out, but these guys are really, really stupid

(5) Our female super stars do not mix well with the average dickhead (literal and metaphorical) line and personnel managers. They tend to stay technical and become recognized experts and technical leaders. Sociopathic women in the line management feel threatened by the smarter ones in the tech leadership side and will do VERY nasty things to keep 'em down. Supported of course by our sexually frustrated suits being stroked (by God I hope not physically) by the sociopaths

(6) Our best and brightest women get sick of the crap and leave. Average salaries then, in spite of an initial good trend, definitely look strange. Simple discrimination though does not adequately demonstrate the totality of dysfunction

(7) maternity leave? Theoretically it doesnt hurt your career. In practice? Cant say its ever helped.

What organization - and Id assume Google is similar to mine - really wants introspection into its inner workings?


Space upstart plans public cloud in low Earth orbit

Chairman of the Bored

I like the Iridium comparison as in many ways Iridium can be thought of as this 'seamlessly shared LEO resource' similar to that proposed. The Iridium system architecture is beautiful, and Motorola (may she rest in peace) did a fantastic job applying mass production techniques to bring the space segment cost under control.

The problem I think is that Iridium hit the street at the same time that the GSM Juggernaut really took off. You're still talking about many billions dropped in infrastructure, but you don't have to pay it all up front, the handsets are cheaper, you can do partial steps to useful capability, pain is spread between many stakeholders, etc. The market voted and its pretty obvious who one

I've used Iridium in some truly bizarre off-grid places ... Where the cell towers absolutely will never grow... And it gets the job done. Much less of a pain in the ass than Inmarsat terminals. But how often is that a relevant use case?

What I find much more interesting is the Globalstar architecture. Rather than cover the whole planet through crosslinked SV, Globalstar's is a bent pipe solution using a GSM air interface. The philosophy here is 'why cover the whole planet when the vast majority of the population lies within a SV footprint width of a GSM tower... Makes for very, very simple and inexpensive SV. You lose coverage in polar regions, middle of ocean, but these are special cases

BUT - there is such a thing as being too cheap. Globalstar skimped on testing (or something!) The s-band downlink subsystems on the SVs couldn't hack the space weather environment and wet titsup. As the L- bank uplink still worked, Globalstar became a one way asset tracking system - staple of long haul hazmat trucking

Smartphones stymie sex

Chairman of the Bored

Think of the CHILDREN!

Lets face a hard fact: if this research is rock solid, we're screwed.

Only those in higher income brackets, socioeconomic classes, whatever, can afford to blow $$ on really nice devices. And we stop reproducing? That sucks. What a long, slippery slope towards idiocracy!

I don't want to take this lying down! I think I will have a stiff drink.

Blighty's buying another 17 F-35s, confirms the American government

Chairman of the Bored

Re: How many changes

Imperial fuckton? All right! A new unit for mass. As an American taxpayer i can honestly say F-35 has fucked me a ton already.

Virtual reality upstart UploadVR allegedly had in-house 'kink room,' drugs, rampant sexism

Chairman of the Bored

FWIW I once asked the commander of an all female military transport crew if the working environment is different than a typical USAF crew. What is was told is, "Not really. Just instead of calling it a cockpit its now the 'box office'.

So now you know.

NASA nixes Trump's moonshot plan

Chairman of the Bored

Re: NASA should make every attempt...

Hang on there...

...I'm no fan at all of the Orange One. But at the end of the days he's the head of the executive branch and therefore boss of the guys saying that our manned space program cannot be manned... because tens of billions of dollars pissed down the drain hasn't been enough. WTF over? Doesn't matter if you are the Orange One, Black One, or Cuckholded One... You have the right to be pissed. If I'm in the executive position ... I'd definitely start shitchanning every man, woman, and child walking into NASA HQ until I cull down to where I find either a capable cadre or a building I can close. As a taxpayer I'm not amused.

But this is only a symptom of the problem. The real problem is that it's not obvious why we need a manned space program in the first place.

Am I happy the space program is just some sort of PR program for the administration? Heck no. But at the end of the day that's all a manned program is good for. If you really want science and exploration, double down on your robotic program. Seriously, other than political grandstanding what does manned spaceflight do for me? Great scientific discoveries and advances in tech? Please.

Human water bags are so delicate we must be cocooned is a perfect little atmosphere of just the right O2 partial pressure... just enough H2O to keep the lungs hydrated... we don't like radiation... built-in sensors are painfully narrowband... low operational duty cycle... bizzare failure mechanisms. If I'm in space interacting with a deadly environment through remote manipulation, sensors, and multiple layers of pressure suit, how is that different from doing the same back in my lab on earth 'experiencing' space through a highly capable robot.? A robot that never sleeps, eats, poops, or has any needs at all beyond power and propellant... Am I any "closer" somehow so that my feeble sensors can somehow achieve magnificent insights? As an astronaut... is my training so amazingly comprehensive and vital that there is no way discoveries are going to happen unless my and my beloved todger are there IN PERSON? That's taking fighter pilot syndrome to unhealthy levels. Even for a pilot.

The only difference between telepresence and what id call 'local telepresence' is tens of $B and "being weightless ". And I know a couple of good psychopharmacologists who can get you the weightless effect in a very economical manner right freakin' here...


US Coast Guard: We're rather chuffed with our new Boeing spy drone

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Interesting cost model

Interesting points; you've given me some things to research and think about. When your actions are indistinguishable from enemy action... Doubleplus ungood

Chairman of the Bored

Interesting cost model

I havent any idea how the RN or USCG pays for it's Scan Eagles, but for at least a little while the USN used an interesting approach akin to an IT SLA. Basically one didn't buy the aircraft, catapults, ground control system, etc. These remained Insitu property. What one did was contract for a certain number of hours of ISR time distributed over some nominal duration (1 deployment), with an understanding that weather gets a vote

From a users perspective that is outstanding... If fifty airplanes lawn dart I could care less as long as I get my imagery. The planes at that point are on the contractor, so they have a strong performance incentive. So rather than merely consuming oxygen, food, and berthing space the contractors would do really weird stuff such as preventative maintenance.

I have no clue if that model held after Boeing snapped them up. Its one thing to bully a small contractor, another thing entirely to grow a pair and confront a giant. But it was good while it lasted.

Chairman of the Bored

Please tell me RN is not going to replace this with a robotic helo?

Why do you Brits insist on duplicating USN's more ridiculous screwups? Scan Eagle was a lovely bit of gear: 20 plus hour endurance. Highly modular so you could customize easily. Very smooth so you get decent imagery from even small optics. Near zero visual or acoustic signature. If I stay downwind from you I can close in, sneak n peek, and keep an eye out for hours and hours... and you'd never know.

Scan Eagle was developed for the fishing industry, so DoD was unable to fsckup the development from the get go.

USN solution? Get rid of it and replace with a robotic helo (MQ-9)! Why not? Its as reliable as a crack addict. As a weapons and optics platform? It shakes like a drunk going through DT's. Its louder than a trainload of hormonal harpies on speed. Shorter combat radius than my todger .... on a really cold day.

And the Royal Navy wants to follow suit and replace Scan Eagle with a robotic Lynx? Hmm.

'Jaff' argh snakes: 5m emails/hour ransomware floods inboxes

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Law enforcement??

If it's a DDoS attack do I get to call it Koch blocking? Just askin'

WannaCrypt ransomware snatches NSA exploit, fscks over Telefónica, other orgs in Spain

Chairman of the Bored

Re: WTF ..., WT actual F ?????

Quite right... 10 days for cat I. But boy oh boy is the actual implementation completely random! God help you if you are a poor bastard at an ashore installation and get caught with your, er, patches down.

But then I go shipboard and find unpatched, unsecured, bog standard Win XP running radars (Northrup Sperry... looking at you) that are actually networked with the ships' nets. So I ask the obvious questions. What it all comes down to is that the more powerful program offices and septic think tanks can get waivers due to a combination of stupidity and raw political clout. Gotta love it!

$6,000 for tours of apocalyptic post-Brexit London? WTF, NYT?

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Missed opportunity

"...bring the whole sorry business to a rapid conclusion.

Oops. Did I say rapid?"

No, I think you meant to say "profitable conclusion". FTFY.

IBM: Customer visit costing £75 in travel? Kill it with extreme prejudice

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Travel costs

Anxiety attack defense? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Have a beer

Chairman of the Bored

Its that deja vu all over again

I really feel for the IBM'ers who work with and actually give a damn about their customers. 'I'm sorry, Jack, but my head shed says I cannot drive out there. Tell you what, get a #2 Phillips and follow along... Hello? Jack????'

Transatlantic link typo by Sweden's Telia broke Cloudflare in the US

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Private Networks

Outstanding observations. The sad thing is, as difficult as the technical issues are to address, the real challenge is to get sufficient resources from ones management to do the job well. After all, why spend money on some disaster that hasn't happened yet?

CIA tracked leakers with hilariously bad Web beacon trick

Chairman of the Bored

Re: Government Anti-Leak Tricks Can be Very Sophisticated

Typewriter reference: see


Iirc in the bad old days you could use audio recordings of IBM selectrics and a lot of elbow grease to determine what was typed.

On the other hand a little dumpster diving for discarded ribbon and carbon paper could also be highly effective. Heck, its probably still effective today...

Linux Mint-using terror nerd awaits sentence for training Islamic State

Chairman of the Bored

Guided missiles

Back when I had an all-expense-paid vacation in Iraq - 2004-2005, the more devout opponents would close their eyes and pray that Allah guide their RPG. Unfortunately those guys didn't survive in large enough numbers to reproduce, so now one has to worry about aimed fire. Next step is guided munitions, but I'm not sure whether such lack of trust in divine guidance is haram? What's this got to do with IT? Well, you could say my service rifle has an outstanding point and click interface...

NASA agent faces heat for 'degrading' moon rock sting during which grandmother wet herself

Chairman of the Bored

Terrorists win

I don't mean to trivialize the loss of life on 9/11 - indeed I lost a good friend - but it's becoming obvious that one of the most unfortunate outcomes of the attack is the ascendancy of the 'badge carrying security dickhead'. Prior to our obsession with terrorism, such people were stuck in small towns hiding behind road signs with radar guns. Now they're in charge of major organisations. They breed rapidly and promote their own. We are well and truly screwed